Once again, not the film I was expecting to talk about, and certainly not the review I was expecting to give it. I found this recent release as a DVD screener on the net, and decided to have a watch whilst popping iOS5 onto the iPad 2 and iPhone (For the record, mixed results – the iPad 2 got wiped, which was annoying by not fatal, the iPhone fared better, although took ages to come back). But it looked pleasant enough, had a shortish running time, I have grown to like the lead female, and frankly, what else am I going to do on a Thursday Night? What I did not expect to be was delightfully charmed.
In “Love You You”, Xiami (Angelababy) has suffered a traumatic childhood when her parents were killed in an accident at sea, from which she was the only survivor. She has become an investigator at a Law Firm, mostly due to her abilities as a lip reader, although she is loathe to use that ability at work. She manipulates her way into a job investigating the Manager of a Malaysian Island Wedding Resort, You Le Le (Eddie Peng), who is suspected of using underhand business techniques. He does appear to be a rogue and a scoundrel (not only that but he is actually using her accident at sea as part of his general selling pitch, not knowing that she is the same girl), and she takes an immediate dislike to him. However, as they get to know each other, romance blossoms, and they form a formidable partnership. However, not only is she having to hide the fact she is actually there to investigate him, but she is hiding a bigger secret about herself from everyone. You Le Le is also has a secret to tell.
On the face of it, yet again, this is just like most of the Rom-coms you have seen before. Two people, forced together, that don’t get on, and yet find love after a couple of bumps on the way.Add in an exotic location, a bickering couple on the cusp of marriage, and an unscrupulous half-brother, I think you could probably write the script in your sleep. Except it has two things going for it that I think made it far more worthy than I expected.
Firstly, you do have the charms of both Angelababy and Eddie Peng. Both are ridiculously good looking of course, but it isn’t eye candy – they have wonderful on screen personas, and the chemistry between them is believable. As the film unfolds, and we get to find out things from alternative viewpoints (or rather with more information than we had when first viewing scenes), a lot of the character work actually gains more depth. Peng is especially good, his initial role as the charming rogue will initially detest you, but as you get to know him, there are layers to him that actually make sense.
Secondly, you have one fabulous twist, that once it is revealed is shockingly obvious (I tend to just watch films, and let them wash over me, rather than let my mind work out the whys and wherefores – so the twist may be unsurprising to a more attentive audience), but not only puts various actions into context, actually becomes part of the background plot, rather than just something affecting their relationship. It explains why they both who they are, and why they have been acting with each other the way they do. The film is also bookended by another development, which I thought was OK, if unnecessary, and thankfully it was not explored in too much detail.
This one isn’t high art, nor is it a Rom-Com game changer. What it is though, is a sweet, sometimes funny (occasionally VERY funny) little film, that has more going on than it ought. I loved the squabbling couple that are vacationing on the Island, the unorthodox approach to the Wedding Vows that You Le Le imparts, and the later meal in Bejing is hilarious. Heck, even a conversation loaded with double entendre on the beach was great – who would have thought a Mainland Chinese film could tickle my funny bone so much by dialogue alone?
Of course it is not perfect- for a film barely hitting the 90 minute mark, it reaches the zenith of their relationship maybe 10 minutes too quickly, leading to a frustrating period where the film goes for the classic reunion not once but twice. Whilst the “Bejing-ending” has got a lovely comic moment in it, and is important in showing you how they have moved on, I am not sure that it quite worked, when we have pretty much the same set of events about to happen in 10 minutes time back on the island. And of course – it is chock-a-block full of those co-incidences that can only happen on film. Yet, I find myself being so charmed by the whole piece, that I forgive it.
It also has an important lesson to impart – don’t go into things with a prejudiced mind, as you will sometimes miss the obvious things that are staring you in the face. This is the most fun I have had with a film for a long time, and I am glad I did not let my own prejudices get in the way of me seeing it. I think I might get even more out of it on a second viewing – Highly Recommended.